Saturday, October 5, 2013

Death Valley

Flash flood in California...
Scary encounter with a desert flash flood...
From Las Vegas, we drove west to California. The intent was was to reach Death Valley National Park around sunrise for the best photos so we drove through the night. At one point, under a black sky with no light visible in any direction, we crested a small rise in the highway. On the other side we saw what appeared to be a large hole so deep that it was pitch black.

We were driving too fast to stop and for a split second I held my breath thinking we are about to plunge into an abyss. Instead we saw a spray of water shoot up in the glare of our headlights as we hit a shallow patch of water.

After we braked hard and stopped -- and started breathing again – we got out to survey the scene. During the night, heavy rain had created a flash flood. In the van headlights we could see the dark water flowing swiftly across the highway, carrying uprooted shrubs and the occasional bit of garbage with it. It appeared to be about a foot or so deep so we proceeded slowly. I was worried about sinkholes but we didn’t encounter any problems.

We arrived at the doorstep to Death Valley shortly before sunrise. We parked beside the highway for a brief nap as I didn’t want to arrive too soon. When I awoke the sky was getting light. I left Leona to sleep in the van and hiked to the top of a nearby hill to watch the sun rise.

Soon after, we continued on our way, arriving at the national park early in the morning. We drove to the top of a scenic lookout with fabulous views of the valley laid out before us. Similar to Utah, the landscape of Death Valley is barren of plant life but rather than the Martian red landscape of Utah, Death Valley resembles the moon.

Sunrise over Death Valley...
The sun rises over Death Valley...
I sneaked a quick pic of this couple sleeping in the warms rays of the rising sun...

Catching early morning rays...

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